5 Activities that will make you go on Retreats

Going to a retreat is actually a way to rejuvenate yourself, renew your spirit, enlighten your soul. It’s a way of going back to heal before you move forward. Some think it’s a religious activity, but you can actually view it as a way to recharge your human batteries.

It’s not all prayers, chants and reflections. There are different retreat activities that you can do depending on your budget or where you want to do it. You can go with family or officemates to pamper yourselves at Caribbean luxury vacations, or you can do solo silent retreats at a forest in Cambodia, up to you as long as it suits your style.

 

I highly recommend it because I’ve done retreats before spanning from a few days to 6 month long activities and it has shaped me who I am today. Want to know more? Below are retreat activities that may spark some interest in you.


you have permission to rest
 


Reflections – These reflective moments should focus on assessing past activities whether it will be beneficial to your future moves. Sometimes, it can just be staring at the ocean at day and gazing at stars without thinking too much.. just unwinding.

Wisdom sharing – this depends on the kind of retreat you are looking forward to. I had a 6 month long retreat in an international community and learning from actual experiences proved the best life teachers to me. For those who have limited time, conversations with a life coach or a spiritual guide may help you chart the next steps of your life.

Food nourishment – those who live in big cities may not have a chance to always eat healthy food. Retreats are occasions for you to also nourish your health. Usually, these kinds of activities are done on rural areas where fresh food and fresh air are abundant. I recommend going vegetarian and see the effects in your body. I tried to have a vegetarian lifestyle for 2 months when I was traveling in Nepal, and despite the very cold weather, I never got severely sick.

Physical activities – You can do some massage, yoga, or if you’re up to it, hike some nearby mountains, bask in the warmth of the sun, swim and feel the love of the ocean. If you love the outdoors and don’t want to be confined in a stationary place, then you will enjoy these activities.
But for those who wanted to just lay back, daily massages and yoga can calm the nerves and soothe the soul. If you are attending a spiritual retreat, spiritual practices is included in the itinerary.


things to do in Bohol: camp out in the beach


Giving back – a way to have a worthwhile activity is to commune with mother nature and the care takers of the beautiful place where you are having a retreat activity. The oceans have lowly fisherfolks, the mountains have indigenous communities, the fresh food that you eat are taken cared by grassroot farmers. It is better to connect to these people and see if both of you need help. You need nourishment of well being; they need help with their livelihood. Both benefits and the cycle of life resumes on a positive light.

Retreat activities should not be fast phased. The objective is to relax and rejuvenate in preparation for busy days ahead.

It’s also different from just having a vacation because here, all aspects of your life are being assessed with reflections. You may want to know life lessons that I’ve learned from doing activities like these, I’d like to share some to you:

1. Everyday is a dying day. So we all need to create beautiful lives not just for us but if we can, for everyone. So when we leave the earth, people will remember the good, and hopefully, will forgive our bad sides.

2. Beauty, fame and glory fades away. Only one thing is constant – change. I have become unattached to material possessions, I do value and collect beautiful experiences instead.

3. That every one has their own purpose in life. If there are no farmers, we will have no food to eat, if there are no doctors, no one will treat us when we get sick.. so they should be given equal treatment in life.

4. That the world is beautiful and we should take care of it because it’s the only one we’ve got.. and because we have limited time on earth, we should roam it before we leave.

5. I still have my bad mischievous side.. just like the yin and yang, all humans have this. Being a saint in this day and age makes you vulnerable to people who takes advantage, leaving you drained out.. So a good balance is beneficial.

Some people actually look forward to some relaxing days away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. For the lucky ones, it has become an everyday lifestyle. ^_^

Dream Travel Destination – Africa

Usually people dream of traveling to the north, like Europe, USA, Australia, any posh capitalist country that has a high economic index. So I’m gonna dream of traveling to another continent instead – Africa.

Africa is not a country, it’s a huge continent with several countries. I have met people who went there as volunteers in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.. and I also met a volunteer from Uganda who went to Thailand to share his skills. The world is getting equal huh? There’s still more to improve on but let’s hope future is bright.

My eyes widen with curiosity when they tell stories of the continent..

Safari is always a regular tourist activity when people go to that part of the world. They can go book at African Safari Home, but for the more curious souls, there’s more to Africa than safari as I’ve come to know more about it. You know what I’ve found?

1. Zuma Rock in Abuja, Nigeria is 725 meters high, double than the Uluru Rock from Australia.. and is also as high as Burj Khalifa in Dubai.. Thanks for the info Nas Daily. Table Mountain of Cape Town in South Africa is the most famous of the table top mountains in the world. . Here’s Table mountain, picture courtesy of Roger and Wendy Arendse:

table-top-mountain-in-cape-town

2. There is snow in Africa.. You think it’s all desert and famine like what you see on the tv? Some of the people who went there said there are parts of the continent that are actually cold… and you know the latest news? Snow has fallen in Sahara.

3. I actually met someone in India who was born and grew in Africa… and she looks very European.

4. The continent has the largest reserves of precious metals with over 40% of the gold reserves, so why is most countries in the continent poor? That’s something to think about.

5. Victoria Falls is the world’s largest waterfalls. It’s what divides 2 countries Zimbabwe and Zambia.

6. There’s an African food named fufu.. And there’s a lack of African restaurants in the Philippines.. hello entrepreneurs :D

So what interesting fact have you learned about Africa? Do you want to travel in the continent too?

How to travel alone – a guide for solo female travelers

How to travel alone – a guide for solo female travelers

My earliest solo travel memories was traveling from Laguna to Manila every school day at 11 years old. I woke up at 4am, then walk (yes, walk) 2 kilometers to the bus station, and hope to not be late for the flag ceremony at 6:30am.

Eventually, the bus conductor knew me already as a regular passenger, then he gave me ticket passes so I don’t have to pay the bus fare. He also told me to scold my mom. I’m sure my mom wants what is best for me coz I still did piano and ballet lessons during weekends. My mom taught me how to mingle with different kinds of caste err I mean classes of society in this country early.

So my early years mould me to be independent while on the road. It paved way to me traveling solo to almost all countries I’ve been. And you know what? It was real adventure.

For those who wants to travel alone for various reasons, you may want to start with traveling to nearby places. If you live in a city, try to travel to nearby provinces, eat local delicacies, go to local tourists spots. Embrace solitude like a new found freedom.


rp_P80412611-1024x768.jpg
 

Then start venturing further, go to places with different dialects, different cultures and tradition. You shouldn’t be paranoid if you can’t speak the local language, usually local people are kind and adjust to you if you are kind enough to them too. But to be honest, sometimes local people can intimidate too. Example, if you speak tagalog in Cebu, locals usually will talk back in English. If you get intimidated, speak to another person instead.

If you’re from the province and want to explore the city, it may take a while to get used to traveling in the busy places.. I suggest go there with a companion first, then try to return on your own. With lots of activities that can get you busy in the city, I’m sure you won’t really mind being alone.

Once you’re at ease, then traveling out of the country will be a breeze already.

My first international solo travel was in Singapore where I left my friends in the hotel to travel and visit an organization, then I traveled around the lion city afterwards. Then I went to solo traveling in most countries that I lived or visited.

Traveling solo has its perks alright. You don’t have to wait for someone if you want to go somewhere else. You don’t have to share decisions. You can go to any tourist spot without asking for someone to go with you. You can go on a shopping spree all day and no one will be impatiently waiting at the hotel’s lobby. You can do food trips without having to share your food.

eggs benedict

As long as you have the budget, you can do what you want. That alone makes me highly recommend traveling solo to anyone.

For most culture, a single asian female traveling deviates from the tradition. Since I understand a bit of Thai language and since Laos language is similar to Passa Thai, I often hear this – Khun Diaw.
This means – only you or you’re alone.


bombs display in the coffee shop
 

It helps that you have a support system online. Someone you can go to just in case you are in trouble. When I was traveling solo, I make sure my family know where I am.

Also, it helps if you travel light and simple so you don’t attract unnecessary negativities. It’s great that I haven’t experienced being kidnapped, or having my wallet stolen while on the road. Maybe because scammers never thought of me as a potential victim… Dear (legal and illegal) scammers in all forms, i have nothing to declare.

But just in case this happens to you, please make sure you know self defense or carry a self defense tool like a pepper spray.

I was not a victim to such scams but our house back home got robbed while I was traveling though, so that’s the reason I’m careful when posting online. It’s better to be humble than to motivate someone to do bad things to you.

Aside from being a potential victim to scammers since you’re traveling alone, there’s also a possibility that you get sick while traveling, and you’re alone. Make sure the food you eat is clean, go to restaurants where there are lots of locals coz usually travelers get sick of diarrhea. And just in case you still get sick, make sure you have an insurance.

I’d still highly recommend solo travel. You will never experience another level of freedom unless you go trek this lifestyle path.

Where to travel solo? That’s another story.

Travel Dream Destination: Italy

10+ years ago, I lived with Italians.. that is why I know some words like.. Ciao :D

But I did not came to live in Italy to mingle with Italians. I was in Tagaytay, Philippines for a 6 month retreat when I came to live with international young people.


focolare tagaytay
Do you wonder what we did while confined in the paradise called Mariapolis? There are lots of activities but I learned how to cross stitch and I learned how to cook there.. Every day, each person (or persons group by nationalities) in the house would cook, so sometimes we have Vietnamese dinner, Italian lunch, Korean breakfast, and when it’s my time to cook – we have pancit canton and red egg….. :D

And when it’s our free time, while the rest do other activities, this is what I do:


grasya geeking
I successfully brainwashed Father Georg, the former responsible for Priest school of Asia, to let me borrow his computer so I can update my website. :D.. and what have I created? Poetries.

 

Oh well, those were wonderful years in my book of life. I am in deep gratitude to the Focolarinas who have put up with my rebel tendencies and still managed to adopt me ;D

And after 10 years, I think it’s high time for me to fulfill this dream travel destination – to travel in Italy. It’s slow going but I’m getting there. But why do I want to go to Italy?

My friends from Myanmar and Vietnam whom I also lived with when I was in Tagaytay has already been to Italy, some of them can speak fluent Italian already. They were able to go because of sponsors.. and since no one wants to sponsor me, I will sponsor myself..


gen batch 2004-2005
Kidding! I really want to prove that I am capable of fundraising for my travels ;)

It has been 10 years and this will all be worth it. But where will I go?

I want to visit the place of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare movement. She is one of the forefront of religious and cultural dialogue of different faith, culture, races, and classes of society. I look up to her ideals of unity and would like to pay respect by visiting her place like when I visited the tomb of Mother Theresa in Kolkata, and when I visited the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini, Nepal.

Yeah of course, Israel is also on the bucketlist.. Jesus, can I pretty please pray for more frugal ways to visit your birthplace?

Now if I get a sponsor, I’ll get to travel around and visit Rome, Venice, and I heard Sardinia is a hidden gem that needs to be discovered.. but that is if I get a sponsor to fund my travels…

**cricket sounds**

 

Ok, sponsors can just give the money to people who need it most. Do not worry I’m self sustainable and just happy to eat authentic Italian PiIiizza and PaaAasta.. I’m saying this with matching Italian gestures.

 

I am also in love with their language, it sounds so beautiful.. Oh the Italian men? I met many Italian guys during my travels, although the ADHD in me was like – oh cute guys – and when they are gone, I will be like – oh my pizza is delicious.. I have no hope :D…

 

It has been years in the queue but it’s all worth the wait.. and it will be very soon till I will finally be able to buy that ticket to this dream destination.. It is worth the wait, dear Italy.. it is worth the wait.